The driver was good and the car was good. But a broken arm to the left-front sway bar of the U.S. Army Chevrolet halted Joe Nemechek's march to the front in Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 Nextel Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, resulting in a 27th-place finish.

"This is too good of a team to get down, but right now we are all disappointed with today's result," said crew chief Ryan Pemberton. "Joe drove a great race and I felt we had at least a top-10 car. It's a shame that a parts breakage spoiled our run."

Shortly after a four-tyre pit stop under caution on lap 163 of 267, Nemechek reported something was wrong with the balance of the car. He immediately returned to the #01 pit stall where the MB2 Motorsports crew quickly diagnosed the problem and went to work to repair the broken part.

Unfortunately it was a time-consuming repair, and when Nemechek returned to action, he was four laps down and positioned in 32nd place.

"All I know is that we had a good racecar today," said Nemechek, who ran as high as sixth before the malfunction. "After the crew fixed the problem the U.S. Army/USG Chevy was once again fast. I drove the car as hard as I could, but being four laps down is one of those insurmountable situations."

Though he was equally disappointed as Pemberton with the result in the Ford 400, Nemechek left the south Florida track proud of the way the team came together during the homestretch of the 36-race season. In the last 10 races, the U.S. Army team had a stellar run with one win, three top fives, six top 10s and two poles.

"I'm not going to let what happened today spoil my off-season," said Nemechek, who finished 19th in the driver point standings. "The positives far outweigh the negatives. We proved that this Army team has talent and that we can be contenders at any given race. I truly believe that we laid a strong foundation for the 2005 season."

"It's been an honour to drive the U.S. Army Chevy and represent the troops here and abroad," Nemechek continued. "As I have said many times I have the best sponsor in the garage."

The next time the U.S. Army/MB2 team will be on the track will be in mid-January for a three-day test session at Daytona International Speedway.